As season winds down, Hornets look for better defense

NEW ORLEANS — Before Friday’s game against the Detroit Pistons, four opponents in five games had scored 100 points or more against the New Orleans Hornets, capped by the season-high 119 hung on New Orleans on Wednesday night by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Hornets coach Monty Williams said he was concerned about it, although there might not be much that can be done now.

“Our biggest thing right now is controlling the ball,” he said. “We’ve been in so many situations where we’re helping on ball penetration, we’re giving up 3s, you give up offensive rebounds. You have to help a lot more.”

Williams, who is in his third year as Hornets coach, said a lot of it is familiarity. Last year’s team, he said, for instance, had been in his defensive system two years.

“They understood where to go on dribble penetration,” said. “The importance of keeping the ball in front of us.

“This year, it’s been a bit different. That’s something we’re addressing now and certainly have to address this summer.”

Oh, brother

Much of what has been disseminated in sports reports on the Lopez brothers, twins Brook of the Brooklyn Nets and Robin of the Hornets, has been about basketball, including one-on-one matchups in elementary school.

However, before his team’s game against the Hornets on Tuesday, Lopez shared one of his favorites.

“In first grade, we switched classes,” Brook said. “There was a Columbus Day play or maybe a Thanksgiving one. I was at the front of the ship, and that morning, I walked too far and crashed into the other side of the stage, so I didn’t want to play that part. So, we switched classes that entire day, so Robin could play it instead.

“I didn’t say anything in my class, so the teacher, Miss Les, she thought I was Robin. But Robin talked in his class and just gave it away completely in Mr. Schulte’s class. It ruined our whole facade.”

Growing up, Brook said, basketball wasn’t their only sport.

“We tried everything — cross-country, water polo, volleyball,” he said. “We played volleyball through high school. We were going to play at Stanford, but the seasons conflicted.

“We participated in track and field; threw the shot put. Lots of stuff.”

He said having a twin, particularly one as big as him, who also played sports always gave him someone to compete against.

“Regardless of what sport you were doing, you were competing against him to be the best,” he said. “I think that made us both better.”

Extra benefit

Baton Rouge native Keith Smart, head coach of the Sacramento Kings, said he had a favorable immediate impression of former Houston Rockets Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich and Toney Douglas, whom the Kings obtained in a trade.

“They spoke at our breakfast meeting, which impressed me,” he said. “They’re professionals. They’re focused on being pros. Being from a team where every game is critical because of the position they’re in, to lend that to our guys is critical.”

The addition of Douglas makes for a logjam of four point guards. However, it will be interesting to see how things end up there after the season ends.

“Toney is a very good on-ball defender,” Smart said, “which is something we haven’t had at the point guard position.”